ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Missouri voters on Tuesday approved a measure giving residents of St. Louis and Kansas City the right to decide the fate of earnings taxes.
Proposition A requires voters in the state's two large cities to approve existing earnings taxes every five years. The measure has statewide ramifications by also barring other Missouri cities from imposing their own earnings tax.
St. Louis and Kansas City are the only two cities in the state that have an earnings tax, which is a 1 percent levy on the earnings of people who live or work inside the city.
City leaders have said they might have to cut services if the ballot measure passes and voters later strike down the earnings tax. Kansas City officials say the earnings tax provides more than $200 million annually in city revenue, and city council members don't know how that would be replaced. St. Louis has estimated the tax brings in $140 million annually.
Let Voters Decide, the committee supporting Proposition A, says on its website that the measure was needed because "a third layer of income taxes imposed at the local level hurts working people and employers."
The group also says the tax "gives people and businesses a reason to locate in nearby suburban areas that don't have an earnings tax."
William Petty, 24, took a break between his day job on a demolition crew and a night job at Home Depot in St. Louis to vote yes on Proposition A.
While Petty didn't want to see city services cut significantly, he thought it was important that residents have input on the taxes they pay.
"I think voters should have a say-so," Petty said.
But another St. Louisan, 58-year-old Marilyn Browning, voted against the measure, worrying it could gut city services if voters eventually strike down the earnings tax.
"I want to make sure we have adequate police protection, and adequate fire protection," Browning said.
In St. Louis, an interfaith group of ministers and civic leaders launched a campaign against the ballot initiative because it could eliminate 33 percent of the city's general revenue fund, with no plan to replace it.
Archbishop Robert Carlson of the group, Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis, said the ballot measure could have a disproportionate effect on the poor.
Proposition A has become a rallying cry for conservative candidates who say taxes have become too burdensome for families in the midst of a stagnant economy.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)